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from the surviving officers of Mina's army, and from Mr. Brush, who accompanied that enterprising individual from England to Mexico, Mr. Robinson has compiled these memoirs, which, after making every deduction on the score of ex parte statement, will be read with gratification.
Don Xavier Mina was born in the month of December, 1789. He was the eldest son of a well-born and respected proprietary, whose domains lay near the town of Monreal, in the kingdom of Navarre. Brought up among the mountains of his native province, he was accustomed to wander through their rich valleys, and to pursue the chase amidst the grandeur of the Pyrenees. His faculties, thus nurtured and exercised, expanded themselves at an early period, while his mind imbibed all the energy of an unconquerable boldness.
The early studies of Mina were pursued at Pampelona and at Zaragoza. In 1808, at the commencement of the resistance of the Spaniards to the French invasion, he was a student in the university of Zaragoza. At that period, between eighteen and nineteen years of age, he felt the strong enthusiasm of the times. When the massacre at Madrid, of the 2d of May, shook all Spain, and the cry of vengeance was heard from the Ebro to the Guadiana, he abandoned his studies, joined the army of the north of Spain as a volunteer, and was present at the battles of Alcornes, Maria, and Belchite.'
When the guerrilla system was adopted as the only efficient mode of opposition to the arms of Napoleon, Mina was the foremost in that species of harassing warfare; but after having distinguished himself by a series of spirited enterprises, he was taken prisoner in the winter of 1810-11. He was succeeded in his command by his uncle, the celebrated Espoz y Mina. When the return of Ferdinand, and the downfal of Napoleon, had restored the old tyrannical regime in Spain, Xavier was released, and the two relatives, dissatisfied with the existing order of things, made an attempt to seize Pampeluna as the point d'appui of insurrectionary movements intended to secure for the Spanish nation the blessings of a free government. The scheme failed, and the Minas became exiles. The nephew visiting England, is affirmed to have received a pension of £2000 from the British Government; a statement to which we do not give the smallest credit. It is far more probable that, as asserted in the present work, he met with considerable encouragement in his meditated enterprise against the colonies on the Spanish main. The conduct of the Old Spaniards in America had been such as to excite a spirit of disaffection both among the Indians and the half-casts. Supercilious and oppressive, the European treated the Creole as a being of inferior order, and claimed from him, and still more from the swarthy native, homage and obedience. Conduct so absurdly impolitic as this could
not fail to excite and to keep alive a spirit of disaffection; and this antipathy was openly manifested when the Spanish dominions in Europe were transferred to a new master, and the exhausting struggles of civil commotion prevented the supply of troops in aid of the existing authorities in the provinces of America. The first decided insurrection in Mexico took place under the command of Hidalgo, the Rector of the town of Dolores he committed the fatal error of neglecting the Creoles, and of committing his cause to the support of the Indians who joined him in immense numbers. Dreadful excesses were committed by his undisciplined foliowers, though he is said to have been himself a man of humane feelings. After obtaining important advantages which were by no means adequately improved, he was defeated by Calleja at the bridge of Calderon, and having been delivered up by the treachery of one of his confidential officers, he was shot on the 27th of July, 1811. Calleja is described as a monster of cruelty, and is said to have disgraced himself by the most atrocious massacres.
Large bodies of insurgents, Creoles and Indians, still kept the field under different officers; and several of them united under the command of Morelos. This chief was, like Hidalgo, an ecclesiastic, of excellent private character, but altogether ignorant of the science of war. His army was far inferior in numbers to the mob of his predecessor, but it was of much better quality and composition. He obtained partial successes, and convened a congress, but, after sustaining repeated reverses, he was taken and shot on the 22d of December, 1815. The legislative body which had been established by Morelos, was dissolved by Don Manuel Mier y Teran, the officer whom we have before mentioned as the chief to whom Mr. Robinson had introduced himself, and in whose suite he was when taken prisoner.
It was during this disastrous state of affairs, when there was no point of union for the patriots, and no distinguished leader to whom they could look with implicit confidence, that Xavier Mina made his appearance on the scene of action. After visiting Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, and having been joined by a number of enterprising citizens of the United States, he sailed for Galvezton, where he communicated with Commodore Aury. At length the arrangements were completed, and the expedition got under weigh for its ultimate destination. The town of Soto la Marina, at the mouth of the river Santander, was the point of debarkation. The small force which Mina commanded, and the distance at which he found himself from any effective co-operation, rendered it necessary that he should enter on a series of rapid and daring
movements, as substitutes for regular military calculations and manœuvres. Previously, however, to his adoption of this course, he sustained a heavy blow in the desertion of fifty-one of his best soldiers, natives of the United States, under the orders of Colonel Perry. The transports which conveyed the expedition, had been destroyed by some Spanish armed vessels; and Perry, despairing of Mina's success, determined on forcing his way along the coast, to a point where he expected to have found the means of embarkation. Mr. Robinson affects to consider his conduct as very mysterious;' to us it seems quite the reverse: we have not the smallest doubt that he felt extreme disgust at the want of conduct displayed by Mina in a camisade which had failed a few days before, and which, had Perry been properly supported, would in all probability have terminated differently.
It was subsequently ascertained from the best Mexican authorities, that the colonel did actually penetrate to within a short distance of his destined point, after several skirmishes with the royal troops, in which success attended him, Flushed with these victories, he determined or attacking a fortified position near Matagorda, which might have been left in his rear, as the garrison did not evince the least disposition to annoy him. He had summoned the commandant to surrender, who was deliberating on the propriety of so doing, at the moment when party of two hundred cavalry made its appearance. A refusal to the summons was the consequence. The garrison sallied out, and a severe action commenced, in which Perry and his men displayed the most determined valour. They continued combating against this superiority of force till every man was killed, except Perry. Finding himself the only survivor, and determined not to be made a prisoner, he presented a pistol to his head, and terminated his existence. Thus perished a brave but rash man; and with him fell some valuable officers and men.'
Mina, however, had no option with respect to the line of conduct which it became necessary to pursue. His ships were destroyed, and his only prospect of success, or even of safety, lay in forcing his way through the enemy's posts, till he could unite his force with some of the insurgents of the interior. After gaining the battle of Peotillos against tremendous odds, he pushed on to Pinos, which he carried by storm, and at length formed a junction with a body of patriots under Don Christoval Naba, whose costume and equipments are thus
← The grotesque figure of the colonel surprised the division. He wore a threadbare roundabout brown jacket, decorated with a quantity of tarnished silver lace, and a red waistcoat; his shirt collar, fancifully cut and embroidered, was flying open, and a black silk handkerchief was hanging loosely round his neck. He also wore a pair of short, loose,
rusty, olive-coloured velveteen breeches, also decorated with lace; and round his legs were wrapped a pair of dressed deer-skins, tied under the knee by a garter. He had on a pair of country-made shoes; and on each heel was a tremendous iron spur, inlaid with silver, weighing near a pound, with rowels four inches in diameter. On his head was placed a country-made hat, with an eight-inch brim, ornamented with a broad silver band, in the front of which was stuck a large picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, inclosed in a frame, and protected by a glass. He was mounted on a fine horse, and armed with a brace of pistols, a Spanish Toledo, and an immensely long lance. His men were equipped much in the same style; but were principally clad and armed with the spoils taken from the enemy. Though these Mexican Cossacks were thus singularly and rudely equipped, they were robust-looking fellows, accustomed to hardships and severe privations, and full of courage.'
The muster rolls of the division on its arrival at Sombrero, a fortress in possession of the patriots, presented a total of 269 combatants; a number which, though too small for any effective purpose, would have served admirably as a nucleus for the formation of a disciplined native army. Unfortunately for Mina, the principal chiefs of the insurrection were not disposed to join him, and the spirit of disunion which actuated them, prevented any co-operation among themselves. Still he was not discouraged; with about 330 men he encountered and defeated at San Juan de los Llanos, 700 royalists under Castanon, who was mortally wounded; and he obtained pecuniary means by seizing the fortified hacienda of Jaral. In the mean time, the Spaniards were besieging the fort of Soto la Marina, where Mina had imprudently shut up more than a hundred of his men, who might have rendered good service had they accompanied him, instead of being left to occupy an untenable fortification. After a spirited defence, they were compelled to surrender. Elated with this advantage, and aware of the danger which still threatened the province from the activity and intrepidity of Mina, the Viceroy of Mexico made extraordinary efforts, and placing a strong division under the orders of general Linan, who is described as a sanguinary ruffian, sent it to lay siege to Sombrero, which was garrisoned by the whole of Xavier's force. Nearly without food, and slenderly provided with ammunition, the besieged soon found their position untenable, and the entire destitution of water compelled them to evacuate the fortress, which had been previously left by their leader. This step completed their destruction. They were pursued, cut up by the royalist cavalry, and, ultimately, only fifty escaped out of two hundred and sixtynine. Mina had proceeded to the strong hill-fort of los Remedios, held by Torres, a patriot chief, who is blamed by Mr.
Robinson as the chief cause of the previous and subsequent disasters. Here he succeeded in obtaining a body of nine hundred irregular cavalry, and immediately took the field. On his
' he met Ortiz, with nineteen of the division, who had escaped from Sombrero. There were six officers among these nineteen men. The moment the general saw them, he put spurs to his horse, and flew to receive them. He cordially gave them a soldier's embrace, and with great eagerness asked, "Where are the rest?" He was answered, "We are all that are left." The blow was severe: his countenance depicted the anguish of his heart; and placing his leg across the pummel of his saddle, he reclined his head on his hand. His fine eye glistened with the warrior's tear of sensibility; but quickly recovering himself, his countenance resumed its accustomed serenity. The general retained four officers and six soldiers of the nineteen, and ordered the rest to take commands under Ortiz.'
Linan now laid seige to los Remedios, while Mina kept the field, and by way of diversion engaged in enterprises which led to no specific result. He stormed Biscocho, and, in reprisal for the massacre of Sombrero, ordered the garrison to be shot, But the term of his career was now approaching. After repeated disappointments in minor enterprises, he attempted to seize by a coup de main, the large and important city of Guanaxuato, and failing, occupied a post where he was surprised and taken prisoner by the Spaniards under the command of Arrantia. He was not suffered to remain long in suspense ; on the 11th of November, 1817,
He was conducted under a military escort to the fatal ground, attended by a file of the Caçadores of the regiment of Zaragoza. In this last scene of his life was the hero of Navarre not unmindful of his character; with a firm step he advanced to the fatal spot, and with his usual serenity told the soldiers to take good aim, " Y no me hagais sufrir,” (and don't let me suffer.) The officer commanding gave the accustomed signal; the soldiers fired; and that spirit fled from earth, which, for all the qualities which constitute the hero and the patriot, seemed to have been born for the good of mankind.
So anxious was the government that his death should be confirmed, that Linan was instructed to detach a surgeon from each European regiment, and the captain of each company, to attend the execution, who should certify that Mina was dead, and moreover describe the manner in which the balls entered his body, and note the one that caused his death. This was done, and the singular document was afterwards published in the Gazette of Mexico.
• Thus perished this gallant youth, in the twenty-eighth year of his age. His short but brilliant career entitles him to a distinguished place on the list of those heroes who have shed their blood in bold and geneVOL. XVIII. N. S. H